QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Interview with Author Melissa Landers

Today we have a chance to chat with author Melissa Landers. (Her success story can be found here.) She writes contemporary romance as Macy Beckett and is celebrating the release of her debut SULTRY WITH A TWIST. (Ms. Landers is also looking forward to the release of ALIENATED, a YA sci-fi novel forthcoming with Disney Hyperion.)

Ms. Landers shares the secrets of her success and offers valuable advice for aspiring authors. Spoiler alert: she makes it sound amazingly easy!

Read on to learn how Melissa turned writing as a creative outlet into the brilliant start of a double-genre writing career.
How long have you been writing?

I have an English degree, so I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t start crafting fiction for my own amusement until NaNoWriMo 2009.

Are you a born writer or did your interest in crafting stories emerge later in life?

Definitely later in life! Writing always felt more like WORK than play for me. The last thing I wanted to do after a long day of teaching junior high was come home and use my brain. It wasn’t until I “retired” to stay home with my babies that I felt the need to write. I craved a project—a creative outlet—to challenge me intellectually.

What influenced you to work towards getting published?

Like most writers, I fell in love with my characters and wanted to share them with others. It was that love that propelled me to rewrite my first book five times. I simply had to give those characters their best shot at making it into the hands of readers.

One of the highest highs for a writer is The Call. Please tell us about yours.

I’ve had two Calls so far, and they were equally thrilling. When my agent (Nicole Resciniti) called to tell me SULTRY WITH A TWIST (written as Macy Beckett) had sold in a three-book deal, I started jumping around and squealing. Then my kids came running into the room, completely terrified. Oopsie. The second Call came five months later, when Nicole sold ALIANETED to Disney Hyperion in a two-book deal. I was sitting the New Orleans airport waiting to board my flight home, and once again, much bouncing and squealing ensued. I attracted the attention of everyone at the gate. It’s a miracle they let me board the plane.

What process did you have to go through to get your first book published? How long did it take?

Even though I wrote ALIENATED first, it was the second to sell. It wasn’t ready when I queried—but like most writers, I didn’t realize that—and it still needed one more rewrite. SULTRY WITH A TWIST was much cleaner, so it went on subs first and sold in three weeks. I can’t complain—it was a pretty smooth process.

Tell us more about your upcoming releases.

SULTRY WITH A TWIST is the story of an Austin bar owner who’s forced to return to her tiny Texas hometown for a month of community service…under the supervision of her first love. If you enjoy hot and humorous romance—especially involving friends-to-lovers and second chances—I think you’ll like it. It’s available in stores now…just sayin’...and two more Sultry Springs books will release in 2013.

ALIENATED follows the misadventures of high school valedictorian Cara Sweeny, who gets more than she bargains for when she agrees to host the nation’s first interplanetary exchange student. It’s full of romance, mystery, sabotage, and some good ol’ fashioned political backstabbing.  It releases in February of 2014.

Can you give us a teaser?

Sure thing! Here’s a short blurb for SULTRY WITH A TWIST:

When June Augustine hightailed it out of Sultry Springs, Texas, with her heart in pieces, she swore she'd never return. But nine years later, one thing stands between June and her dream of opening an upscale martini bar: a month of community service under the supervision of the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-best friend. As lust turns to love, June must decide where she belongs: in the glorious anonymity of Austin or back in Sultry Springs with the man who intoxicates her like no other.

Did you work with an editor? What was the experience like?

I have two wonderful editors: Leah Hultenschmidt (Sourcebooks) and Laura Schreiber (Disney Hyperion). They each have a good eye for detail, and because I trust them to guide me in the right direction, I do what they ask. It’s that simple.

What do you hope readers take with them when they read one of your stories?

A smile! Seriously. My favorite reviews are the ones where readers say they smiled during the whole book. That’s what I want—to make you happy.

What are your goals as an author? Do you have a plan to reach them?

I want to be a bestselling author in both genres (YA and romance). Hey, if you’re going to set a career goal, you might as well aim high! Do I have a plan? Aside from writing the best books I possibly can and connecting with readers, no. There’s little else within my control.

How do you feel about the daunting task of self-promotion?

I don’t like asking for things. I’m fiercely independent, and it feels unnatural to email a bestselling author and ask for a blurb. Or ask people to buy my books. Or contact a blogger and request a review. (In fact, one blogger turned me down and then publicly mocked me on twitter. That was pretty sh*tty.) But my motto is “You can’t win if you don’t play.” When I’m faced with the uncomfortable task of selling myself, I remember that the worst anyone can do is say no. Or make fun of my book on twitter. J

What do you feel is the most important thing new authors need to remember when writing their own stories?

To be patient and persistent. Many of us have a tendency to want success now—I’m no exception—but the path to publication is a marathon, not a sprint. It might take one year to hone your craft, or it might take a decade. But if you quit, you have zero chance of meeting your goal.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

You bet I do: Get off the internet—after you read this interview, of course—and write more books! I see too many aspiring authors throw all their time and effort into tweeting, networking, blogging, building a platform, etc. You can’t tweet your way into a publishing deal. You *must* keep your forward momentum going and always have a WIP. Did you just finish your first manuscript? Your fifth? Great, congrats! Now get to work on the next one. You never know which book will result in getting your foot in the door. Once you accomplish that, it’ll be easier to sell the others.

If a book was written about you, what do you think the title would be in five words?
She lives inside her head. J

Is there any place that our readers can get more acquainted with you?

I’m all over the place, but my favorite spot to hang out is Facebook. Feel free to “like” me for sneak peeks, giveaways, and the latest news on all my books. I love hearing from readers and writers! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. It was a pleasure!

Ready to check out Macy Beckett's SULTRY WITH A TWIST?

Find Sultry with a Twist (Sultry Springs) on Amazon

Barnes & Noble


Indie Bound


Melissa Landers said...

Thanks so much for having me on the blog! Query Tracker was an incredibly valuable resource for me when I was seeking an agent, so it's a special thrill to see my name up there today. ::blushes::

You guys ROCK!

Sarah P said...

"Get off the internet."

So true!


Melissa Landers said...

Totally, Sarah. But where am I right now? On the internet. Oh, the hypocrisy, lol!

Ash Krafton | @ashkrafton said...

You are a fantastic guest, Melissa! I'm still laughing at some of the things you've said in other interviews...

(Thank you, Internet. lol)

Best wishes for your debut, Melissa!

Mart Ramirez said...

What a great interview! I enjoyed reading.

And wow. I had no idea someone would mock an author on Twitter for asking for a review. So sorry :/

LOVE your motto! That is so VERY true!

And excellent reminder on never knowing which book will result in getting your foot in the door. It’ll be easier to sell the others once you accomplish that.

Melissa Landers said...

Martha, the same thing happened with Darynda Jones...but on a much larger scale. She sold an adult series and then her publisher wanted her YA, which she'd written first. You just never know which book will be the one to hit the market at the right time.